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N13.5bn Arms Scam: Absence of lawyer stalls Dasuki’s trial

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The trial of former Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) was stalled earlier today as due to the absence of Dasuki’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN).

The ex-NSA is standing trial with five others before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja over N13.5 billion arms purchase scam.

Dasuki, alongside a former Director of Finance and Administration in his office, Shuaibu Salisu; a former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Aminu Babakusa; and two companies are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 19-count charge  bordering on money laundering and criminal breach of trust to the tune of N13.5.

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At today’s sitting, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court that counsel to the first defendant, Raji, had served him a letter, seeking adjournment of the trial to Friday, January 22, 2016.

‘‘Counsel to the first defendant wrote a letter to me, saying that he won’t attend today’s proceedings on the grounds that he will be appearing before an election petition tribunal in Lokoja, Kogi State,’’ Jocobs told the court.

Jacobs further told the court why the prosecution could not produce the first defendant in court for trial as scheduled.

‘‘When I inquired about the first defendant, I was told he is not in their (EFCC) custody. On further enquiry, I was told that he is with the Department of State Security. We have, however, made moves to ensure that he is produced in court this morning. My Lord, they are bringing him to court this morning.’’

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In response, counsel to the other defendants kicked against the motion moved by the prosecution counsel, maintaining that the plea for adjournment of the trial was at the instance of the prosecution.

Counsel to the third and fifth defendants, Solomon Umoh (SAN), pointed out that the prosecution should have ensured the presence of all the accused persons.

“This adjournment is at his (Jacobs) instance. The court has to wait for him (Dasuki) before ruling on the adjournment.  It is a criminal procedure and can’t be held in the absence of the accused person,” Umoh said.

After listening to all the parties, Justice Baba-Yusuf stood down the matter for about an hour to enable the prosecution present the first defendant in court for the commencement of trial.

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Following the arrival of the first defendant about 11.00a.m., prosecution counsel pleaded with the court to adjourn the matter to Friday, January 22, 2016 based on the request of the counsel to the first defendant.

Counsel to other accused persons did not raise any objection. Consequently, Justice Baba-Yusuf adjourned the matter to Friday, January 22, 2016.

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